As many of us turn our attention to Valentine’s Day, with its clichés of overpriced roses and overcrowded restaurants, it’s worth a moment to reflect on the true meaning of love. It is said that “love makes the world go ’round.” Countless songs have been written on the subject, and virtually all of us have experienced love in our lives. Some of us may have even been burned by it when we dared to love someone. There is no denying that love is an awesome force. True love is a selfless emotion, when caring for someone else supersedes one’s own interests. Love shouldn’t be about “what’s in it for me?” To the contrary, love is about what you can give to others. The true beauty of love is that, in the process of giving, you invariably benefit by becoming a better person.
One of the purest forms of love is that which a parent has for a child. It is probably the closest thing to unconditional and eternal love that humans are capable of. One story that serves as a testament to the extraordinary power of love involves Dick Hoyt and his adult son, Rick, who was born with cerebral palsy, a disease which confines him to a wheelchair and requires him to use a specially adapted computer to communicate. Always wanting to give his son opportunities to experience life to the fullest extent possible, Dick Hoyt began competing in triathlons and other races in response to a simple request from Rick to participate in a charity run. Undaunted by the fact he was not an athlete by nature, Dick summoned the will to push his body and mind to do that which his heart had resolved. Since the first five-mile benefit run, the two have competed in more than 1000 races, including numerous Iron Man triathlons, with Dick carrying, pulling, and pushing his son through the rigorous cycling, swimming, and running phases. It is a genuinely awe-inspiring sight to behold this father and son tandem, almost certain to create chills down your spine or produce teary eyes.
Let this be a reminder about the true spirit and power of love. This Valentine’s Day and each day after that, celebrate and cherish the loved ones in your life. Don’t wait until Hallmark tells you to do so.